Thomas Hardy, how we met
I was first introduced to the works of Thomas Hardy at school. We had to study him for our English literature exam. My heart sank when the teacher handed me Far From The Madding Crowd to read in the holidays. Like every teenager I reluctantly started to read, and then I turned the pages quicker and quicker. Then I went to the library and borrowed Tess of the d’Urbervilles and a selection of his poetry. Over the years I have read most of Hardy’s books and poetry and enjoyed each one. I thought I would share my favorites here with you.
Far From the Madding Crowd
Far From The Madding Crowd
The plot of Far from the Madding Crowd centers on Bathsheba Everdene, and the three men in her life. The first one is a poor sheep farmer, Gabriel Oak, who loses his flock in a tragedy and ends up working as an employee on Bathsheba's farm. He is the rock in Bathsheba’s life. The next man is farmer Boldwood who is a respectable but boring owner of a neighboring farm who takes Bathsheba's flirtations too seriously. When she sends him a valentine’s card in fun, he becomes obsessed by her and slowly looses his mind. The third is Sergeant Troy, a dashing army sergeant who treats her like just another of his conquests. Early in the novel he is involved with Fanny Robin and gets her pregnant. At first, he plans to marry her, but there is a mix up about which church to meet and after that he refuses to marry her, and her fate is sealed. This book explores many issues. The contrast in the roles of women in the late 19th century/early 20th century. Bathsheba strong willed and a self sufficient farmer, while Fanny Robins was poor and week willed. It explores how these women were seen by society of that time. The impact a seemingly small event can have. The valentines’ card and Fanny going to the wrong church has huge repercussions, which Hardy exploits to the maxi mine. Set in Hardy’s mythical Wessex the country life is the backdrop to the events in this novel.
Tess of the d’Urbervilles
Tess of the d’Urbervilles
Tess of the d’Urbervilles is a much darker novel, but with some similar themes to far from the Madding crowd. The central character is a woman and explores her relationships with the men in her life; her father, John Durbeyfield, Alex d’Urberville, a wealthy relation and the cleric Angel Clare. The setting again is in Wessex and the rural life shadows the emotions of the story. Tess of the d’Urbervilles explores the importance of social class in nineteenth-century England, and a woman’s role in it. There is a lot injustice in this novel, and a feeling of how unfair the world can be. The role of religion is a theme running through the story and how even this can be used as a punishment. The fact that Tess dies at Stonehenge, a pagan site, says a lot of how religion has let down poor Tess.
Thomas Hardy's Darkling Thrush
During wind and rain
My Favorite poem
I leant upon a coppice gate When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter's dregs made desolate The weakening eye of day. The tangled bine-stems scored the sky Like strings of broken lyres, And all mankind that haunted nigh Had sought their household fires.
The land's sharp features seemed to be The Century's corpse outleant, His crypt the cloudy canopy, The wind his death-lament. The ancient pulse of germ and birth Was shrunken hard and dry, And every spirit upon earth Seemed fervourless as I.
At once a voice arose among The bleak twigs overhead In a full-hearted evensong Of joy illimited; An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small, In blast-beruffled plume, Had chosen thus to fling his soul Upon the growing gloom.
So little cause for carolings Of such ecstatic sound Was written on terrestrial things Afar or nigh around, That I could think there trembled through His happy good-night air 30 Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew And I was unaware.